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From caco- +‎ -graphy, perhaps after Middle French cacographie.



cacography ‎(countable and uncountable, plural cacographies)

  1. Bad spelling or punctuation, especially unintuitive spellings considered as a feature of a whole language or dialect. [from 16th c.]
    • 1846, Gabriel Surenne, A Practical Grammar of French Rhetoric, IV.4.1:
      A phrase exhibits proofs of cacography, when the accents are misplaced, forgotten, or used erroneously.
    • 1999, Jack Schofield, The Guardian, 25 Feb 1999:
      In 1997, two American entrepreneurs, Robert Hoffer and Timothy Kay, formed a company called to try to profit from Web surfers' cacography.
    • 2003, Onwuchekwa Jemie (ed.), Yo' Mama!, p. 10:
      The soul of dialect is cacography, the deliberate misspelling of words for comic effect, which is the written equivalent of the malapropism.
  2. Poor or illegible handwriting. [from 17th c.]
    • 1904, John Rexford, What Handwriting Indicates, pp. 90-91:
      Many illegible letters is the sign of disorder, and the illegibility of Greeley's cacography has furnished numberless anecdotes.
    • 2002, Mil Millington, The Guardian, 29 Jun 2002:
      Germans write a "1" so it's easy to confuse it with a "7": mathematics and cacography can leave Margret and I not speaking to each other for a week.
    • 2010, Martin L. Buxbaum, Negotiations with the Sniper: Book One, p. 63:
      I don't even recognize the handwriting – kind of a scrawled, almost illegible cacography with the letters slanting haphazardly in all directions.

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